Breakout games have been a staple of gaming since the inception of the medium. Your bat and ball versus the bricks ahead of you makes for a really simple but distilled gameplay experience. FoxPaww pops an interesting twist on the genre by offering randomly generated, multiroom levels to give a very light roguelike experience. It just lacks much of a challenge to anyone beyond a young gamer.
Instead of a bat, you have your paw! In a cute switch up, you move your paw left and right to bat a furry creature around the various forest or desert areas to save your friends. These friends have been trapped in bubbles and one hit from your ball will free them. Free them all without losing your lives and it is onto the next level. Lose your lives first and you’ll replay the same level number but with a different layout.
Much in the promo material is made of FoxPaww being an adventure but its really interconnected rooms. The random generation is varied enough in how levels are structured and a helpful map shows you where you’ve been and the exits from those rooms. This is handy late on in the 21 level campaign as there can be up to 20 rooms per level to explore in theory. Moving between them takes a bit of getting used to as you have to aim for the exits dotted potentially anywhere along the edges of a room. Thankfully, FoxPaww’s saving grace is its aftertouch guidance. You can move the ball left or right and really bend it like Beckham. Helpfully too, the game seems to understand at times when you are aiming for an exit and push you into a full-on turn. It doesn’t always happen though but it was lovely when it did. The left and right steering of your ball depends on its direction it is facing which I kept forgetting and I’d often start moving the wrong way.
So far, so good – but there is one huge issue that plagues the game. It is a cake walk.
Enemies exist in FoxPaww but they don’t really do much despite being cute. An apple tree drops some apples. A carrot lays some smaller carrots down. All each enemy does is fundamentally add more things for you to bounce off on the screen. They are all entirely optional too so you can blast around levels avoiding half the confrontation to just save your friends if you wanted. Put simply, enemies are too passive and as the aftertouch is so strong, you can get yourself out of trouble by just zigzagging left and right. Levels are unlocked by collecting musical notes but I collected over a hundred in the first few levels and the requirement for unlocking levels is about six times less than that. It added nothing to the game as I didn’t need the skill to collect them.
On the occasions I did die, most of them were down to two reasons. The main one is when moving between screens. This poses a challenge as you don’t know what is coming when you first enter a new screen and your paw spawns in the same place you left it on the previous screen. Sometimes this means its too late to move to save a ball if the entrance is right in a corner. The second reason was through a couple of ball stuck bugs. A few times when exiting a room my ball would stutter back and forth a bit as if it wasn’t sure if it wanted to leave or bounce back.
Ultimately, FoxPaww is nice to look at and fine to play but I found myself zoned out from the experience. Younger gamers grappling with breakout games for the first time will likely enjoy the passive, accessibility of FoxPaww. I think everyone aged in double digits will find it a little too sedate.
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